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Fri, 14 August 2020

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Chris Grayling tells north to 'take control' of transport investment plans

Chris Grayling tells north to 'take control' of transport investment plans
3 min read

Chris Grayling has told northern political leaders that it is their responsibility to produce plans for new transport networks across the country. 

The Government has come under pressure to commit to major infrastructure projects in the north, including the proposed HS3 rail link from Liverpool to Hull.

Business and political figures are meeting in Leeds today to push for greater investment but Mr Grayling has used an article in the Yorkshire Post to challenge them to “take control” of the process.

“The message I want to send them is simply this: although one of my biggest priorities as Secretary of State is to build the transport links the North needs to thrive, they must be designed and managed by the North itself,” he wrote.

“It is central government’s responsibility to provide funding and a delivery structure that ensures efficiency, value for money and accountability. But beyond this, I want the North to take control…

“Instead of ministers and civil servants in Whitehall deciding what’s best for the North, I want TfN [Transport for the North] and other northern leaders to come forward with fully costed proposals to improve journeys for transport users and provide value for taxpayers.”

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said Westminster had “failed the north of England” and called on the Government to put up the funding to back up its rhetoric on the “Northern Powerhouse”.

“This is quite an unprecedented meeting where we are saying 'yeah, we are going to get our act together, we will be clear about the plan we need, but it has to be a partnership',” the Labour politician told the Today programme.

“There is no way we can deliver the infrastructure the north needs alone, that has to be delivered through substantial government investment. We welcome some of the steps they’re taking around the north to improve our transport infrastructure but it’s not enough to build the Northern Powerhouse that we were promised.

“And our message today to the Government is clear: you must now come forward with the financial backing to make the plans a reality.”

The summit comes the day after former chancellor George Osborne, who coined the term “Northern Powerhouse” when he was Chancellor, urged Theresa May to “relaunch” her premiership by pressing ahead with a high-speed link across northern cities.

The Government was criticised last month when it revealed that some previously announced rail electrification works would not go ahead.  

And ministers have come under fire from a group of 22 MPs representing constituencies in south Wales for failing to invest more in the region's rail links.

In a letter to Mr Grayling and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, the MPs expressed “anger and disappointment” at the “continued neglect” of rail infrastructure in the region. 

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